How To Survive Working From Home While Staying Healthy, Fit And Pain Free
During times of isolation, whether it’s that you’re working in a remote area or that you have been forced to work from home isolated, it’s important to remain active during the period of isolation. When you’re able to go back to your normal workouts, remember that your body may have changed during the period of inactivity or different activity.
There’s a lot of factors to take into account, so click on the links below to read more in each section:
- Working from home
- Sleeping issues and effectiveness at work
- Obesity, diabetes and chronic pain
- Dehydration of tissues in the body and its effects
- Workstation setups
- Posture, spine and shoulder problems
- Foot pain and footwear
- Headaches, neck, jaw and eye pain
- Changes in routine and habits
- Pelvic floor issues
- Respiratory and lung issues
If you’re experiencing trouble due to working from home, contact one of our friendly physiotherapists to help.
Working From Home
Many of us are working from home these days. We might be working at home full time or maybe it’s just a couple of days a week – either way, there are advantages and disadvantages to working at home.
If you are working your entire hours at home you might:
- Get out of bed later because you don’t need to factor in travel time
- Spend more time in bed because you don’t need as much time to get ready – after all who knows on a Zoom call if you haven’t had a shower or brushed your teeth yet today.
- Eat your meals or snack in front of your computer while you’re working.
- Use your dining room table as a work setting, or your kitchen bench, or your bedroom.
- Have the TV on while you are working
- Not schedule in regular meal times or time to make healthy meals
- Forgo your exercise routine because of your work deadlines.
- Not make the time to get to the gym/or your gym may be closed.
- Wear PJs or lounge wear while you are working.
- Find yourself with headaches due to eye strain because the lighting in your home is not suited to looking at a screen all day.
- Drink less water
- Do less incidental exercise
- Work for hours on end without taking a break
- Completely let go of all routines that you had spent years setting up for yourself that kept you in good health.
- Not have any contact with other people except for via a screen
- Put off going to the toilet during the day because you are busy or find that your regular toileting pattern has gone out the window
- Start having a regular alcoholic drink in the afternoon
- Develop eye strain, neck pain, jaw pain or shoulder pain from your work setup
- Develop shallow breathing and decreased lung capacity
Sleeping Issues And Effectiveness At Work
When you get out of bed later than usual or continually sleep in, your body clock changes. Because you get used to waking later your body is not ready to go to bed at the time you used to go to bed. This means you will start to go to bed later and maybe watch more TV or FB to fill in that time at night. All of this extra screen time can play havoc with your sleep cycles so you have trouble sleeping but you also have trouble waking! It is a vicious cycle. This can leave you feeling tired and fatigued and unable to perform your job as well as you used to be able to. This can also lead to stress and anxiety. Extended periods of stress and anxiety may weaken your immune system. Weakened immune systems leave us vulnerable to catching bugs and viruses going around.
The answer to this is to get up at the same time every day even if you do not have to travel or get ready. You might go for a walk or read a book. It is also important that you then get to bed and of course sleep at the same time every night in order to maintain healthy sleep habits which will then have you firing on all cylinders the following day. Limit your screen time before you go to bed and whatever you do, do not take your laptop into the bedroom. Use your bedroom only for sleeping and non screen time activities to ensure you do not take your workplace into the bedroom.
Getting up later because you don’t need the time to travel will mean that you might be exercising less. At least at that time of the day, first thing in the morning. If you usually spend the time walking to the train or bus station, or walking from your carpark to your place of work you will be missing out on that particular essential exercise that your body has been used to doing. This exercise first thing in the morning may help to boost your metabolism, increase the airflow into your lungs, increase the blood flow into your body including lungs and muscles and boost your immune system. It also means you are probably walking outside which you will probably then be also getting a good dose of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for the prevention of osteoporosis so if you are working from home and not getting outside at all please schedule in the time to get a bit of sunshine while you are working. Maybe schedule a quick 20 min walk in the mornings to make up for the lost exercise that you routinely did by walking to and from the train station or your carpark.
Walking to the train or bus station in the morning also means that you are probably likely to see other people. Of course in cold, flu and virus season you do not want to be in close contact with other people but even saying hello to another human while maintaining your distance is good for your overall well being. Working in isolation from home and only talking to others via Zoom etc can have serious effects on your mental health and wellbeing, so it is essential that you keep in contact with friends and family and when you go for a walk outside say hello to the people you pass by on your walk. Don’t worry if they don’t say hello back. You will be the one to benefit from saying hello and they might have a better day because you did so also.
If you decide to stay in bed later because you don’t need the time to blowdry your hair, put on makeup or whatever you usually do to get ready for your day, remember that when we take the time to look after ourselves it makes us feel better about ourselves and can give us a more positive start to our day. While working from home we might get stuck into work without having a shower or brushing our teeth which can lead to serious problems later on. I know that I myself have been guilty of this because if I start to look at my emails etc first thing in the morning the next thing I know it is 11 am and I haven’t even brushed my teeth.
As we all know not looking after our teeth can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and there is also some evidence to suggest that gum disease may have some connection to heart disease. Make the effort to continue to get ready as though you were going into the office or workplace. It will make you feel better about yourself because you are showing yourself the respect that you deserve. These feelings will help you to make the most of your workday at home because you will be able to get on with the job to the best of your ability. It doesn’t hurt to mention that again all of this time getting yourself ready for the day is also incidental exercise which may help in the long term to keep your weight stable and sugar levels under control because of the consistent activity. Feeling good about yourself also helps to improve your posture by standing and sitting tall. When we are not feeling good about ourselves we tend to slouch. Constant slouching postures might lead to both acute and chronic pain.
If you’re experiencing any of these issues, make sure you get in touch with a Graceville physiotherapist.
Obesity, Diabetes And Chronic Pain
Eating and drinking in front of your computer doesn’t seem so bad when you are in the workplace because there’s often not a constant supply of food for you to continually snack on. Sitting at your computer at home is a very different environment and can often lead to multiple visits to the fridge or pantry. Now you might say that this is incidental exercise; the fact that your fridge is probably very close to the dining room table where you are working from, the incidental exercise is minimal. Even if you have a designated office in your home where you work out of you cannot use incidental exercise as an excuse to snack at your desk.
Excess snacking leads to weight gain which puts a lot of stress and strain on our joints. Coupled with the fact that when we are working from home we might be sitting down most of the day working and this may result in not only weight gain but muscle loss, joint weakness and core instability. We may choose the wrong kind of snacks to eat such as processed foods because they are easy to eat and do not need any preparation. When working from home we will often look to find food that does not take time to prepare and unfortunately these foods are often highly processed and full of calories, sugar, salt and fat. Starting these habits could also make breaking these habits very difficult leading to the health problems mentioned before such as obesity, diabetes and chronic pain due to joint instability and muscle loss.
The key here is to stop eating while you are working. Rather, take scheduled breaks where you can make the right decisions about the food that you are choosing. Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables not only helps us to keep our weight in check but can also help to stabilise our moods. Eating a diet high in refined sugars can lead to fluctuations in our blood sugar but also in our moods. Your body will love you for the healthy snacks as you will feel good and look good. Fresh wholesome foods may also impact on your general health and wellbeing and improve your immune system.
An increase in immunity may mean that you are less susceptible to colds, flus and viruses. It also means that if you do contract a cold, flu or virus your body has the capacity to fight the illness because of the strengthened immune response. So that is another very good reason to make sure that the food we are consuming is actually strengthening our body and the stability of our mood may help to maintain the strength of the mind.
If you’re struggling with chronic pain, get in touch with our team today.
Dehydration Of Tissues In The Body And Its Effects
Now what about drinking at your workstation? That all depends on what type of drinking you are talking about.
I often hear of patients complaining that they have not had a drink of water all day. It is very important to maintain your fluids even though you are working from home. Dehydration may lead to headaches and joint pain.
Often I will hear of someone complaining of a headache or neck pain and the only thing they are in need of is a big glass of water.
Looking at a screen for hours on end can make our eyes less hydrated as we tend to blink less when looking at a screen. Now I do not know if drinking water will help your dry eyes but it certainly can’t hurt. Sipping on water throughout the day is better than drinking a large glass of water a couple of times a day. This will lead to consistent hydration of your lungs and tissues in your body.
Muscle and fascial tissue (this is the fibrous tissue that covers all of our muscles, nerves and organs) keeps your organs in place within your abdomen and also works to stablilise your body under certain loads. It is vitally important that you keep this, and your lung tissue well hydrated. During winter, cold and drying winds can sometimes lead to irritability in the airways of some people. Hydration of the tissues may help this. It is sometimes advisable to drink warm fluids which can also help with the movement of the tissues in the airways. During spring time, which can often be allergy season, it’s important to keep hydrated as dehydration can affect already inflamed nasal and sinus passages.
Our nasal sinuses are very important for the filtering of the air. Some people when dehydrated tend to breathe through their mouth which brings often cold and unfiltered air into the lungs. Mouth breathing also dehydrates us because a lot of fluid is lost in our breath out especially if it comes out of the mouth. Any virus that has been breathed in will not be filtered through the nasal passages and nasal sinuses. This might make you more susceptible, so the answer is to keep hydrated and try to breathe through your nose. This will then ensure that the body does what its job is to do and that is to protect and heal.
Our nasal sinuses and passages have their own microbiome (environment of bacteria) which helps to protect us from the air we breathe by having the air pass through them first before it enters our lungs. During summer it can be hot and therefore we will naturally lose a lot more bodily fluids due to sweating, so it is always important to keep up the fluids in summer.
Coffee and Tea
For all of you coffee and tea drinkers out there, caffeine is a diuretic which means the more coffee and tea you drink, the more you will dehydrate your body. Excess caffeine can also irritate your bladder and urethra (the tube from your bladder to the outside) and may also lead to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate.
If you think that you can drink a cup of coffee every hour because it is only instant then I’m pretty sure that myth has been busted. So probably best to not increase your caffeine intake whilst you are working from home. Of course the other issue is that if your sleep habits have been messed around from working at home, drinking more coffee to remain alert is probably the best thing to do. The answer here is to try to fix your sleep habits first by getting into a regular routine.
Now of course, we wouldn’t be drinking while we are working all day but what happens at 5 pm or ‘Beer O’Clock’? The fact that we are home all day working hard might have us thinking that we deserve to have a drink on a daily basis. After all, a change in how we work can be quite stressful.
Then it becomes “what happens when it’s 5 o’clock and we just have to get one more task completed?” Maybe we could finish it while having a glass of wine. This may be OK once or twice but if you let it become a habit then here come the problems mentioned before. Obesity, diabetes and chronic pain may be heading your way.
We have seen many patients come into the clinic recently commenting on that the fact they are not going in to work means that they can then indulge in a drink earlier in the day than they used to, or some are even having a drink at the end of the day when they never did this before. These patients are also complaining of putting on weight especially around their abdomen which is considered to be the worst place to put on weight and some say the hardest place to then remove the weight from.
Excess alcohol and obesity have also been mentioned in problems with infertility in not only women but men also. Developing this habit can have no benefit to anyone, so maybe the only thing to drink when working is water and sugar free drinks.
In addition to this excess alcohol has been linked to and increase in domestic violence and mental health problems. If you and your partner are both working from home it is even more important to develop some good working habits that you and your partner can work together on.
For more information, talk to a trained physio today.
What if you’re working from home and have none of the essentials, such as a desk or a proper work chair? Statistics have shown that the average full time worker spends more time at work than they do in any other activity, including spending time with their family. This is a really important reason for us to get our set up correct whether you are working from home or not.
I do know of some people working from home who were able to bring their chairs or some part of their workstations home so that they have the best set up in which to work. This is all good in the short term but what happens when your boss wants you to come back into the office for a couple of days per week.
All of your necessary work stuff is now at home and you are forced to use someone else’s workstation at work or share with another colleague. If possible you need to set yourself up so that you can work comfortably at home and also be able to return to work when needed.
To that end, it’s really worth investing in a good chair. Chairs that can be adjusted to the correct seat height but also depth and width are great. If you are short and you are forced to sit in a chair that is too deep in the seat for you, then you will develop some postural pain from this. The chair height should be high enough so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees when sitting. The back of your knees should not then be pressed into the chair but have a little space so that your knees are bent at just slightly more than 90 degrees with your feet flat on the floor. The back of the chair should fully support your lower and mid to upper back. Many chairs are able to be adjusted to fully support the sitters back.
There is no reason to be too concerned if you do not have an office chair. A dining room chair with a high back can work OK. In this case, you can use small cushions or rolled up towels that you have at home in order to fully support your back. When sitting at your keyboard it is important that you’re not forced to sit forward in your chair, as then any support that you have set up for your back won’t work anyway.
Your desk height should be high or low enough so that when you are using your keyboard your forearms are horizontal and your wrists are slightly extended or bent back to enable you to use your fingers efficiently on the keyboard. You may need to bring the seat of your chair up in height to get this position on the keyboard and if you do then you will need to use a stool so that your feet stay flat on the floor and your hip and knee angles remain at slightly more than 90 degrees.
Finally your screen needs to be at eye level when you are looking straight ahead. This can be easily done using a box or anything around the home to lift up the screen. If you are using a laptop I suggest you either attach another screen or you use a seperate keyboard so that you are able to maintain good posture at all times.
So now that you have that all set up you can get to work for the whole day!
Things to be aware of:
It is very important that you don’t sit in one position all day. I suggest to all of my patients that one hour is the absolute maximum that you should be sitting in one spot for. If you have lower back of neck issues then I recommend only 30 mins at a time. After this period of time it is important to get up and walk around. Do some stretches or some gentle exercises. We have put together countless exercise programs for those working from home that enable them to continue to work safely at home so that they avoid any injuries or pain from sustained postures.
The other good reason to get up and move around is that we all work best when we work in shorter periods of time. Our concentration levels can start to wane after about 40 minutes. Children especially are known to only have good concentration for about 20 minutes or so.
Remember at school when you had to change periods several times a day? Where I went to school we had 8 x 40 minute periods per day, and if we had a double period then we would have a 5 minute break in the middle. This helped to ensure that we all stayed on track.
If possible, it’s best to change the tasks you are performing, so if you are writing or using your laptop for an hour it would be great to schedule online meetings for the next hour. Anything you can do to change up the activities that you need to do during the day so that you are not doing one thing for a consistent period of time will help to prevent any postural pains from being in the same position for too long.
Another great way to ensure that you change your position is to sometimes stand up while you are working. Standing is much more preferable to sitting, but we actually cannot stand all day. A mixture of standing and sitting is ideal for working at home and in the workplace. Stand up desks these days are pretty cheap from office supply stores, but if you don’t have one then all you need to do is put your keyboard up on a box so that when you are standing your forearms are in the position mentioned before.
You could even place your keyboard on the kitchen bench as these are often higher than the dining table but be sure to also lift up the screen so that the screen height remains at the level of your eyes when looking straight ahead.
When you get a stand up desk, you will soon work out that it can be uncomfortable to stand all day especially if you are standing on the cold hard tiles at home. A rubber mat called a fatigue mat is what to stand on when working in a standing position. They have them in all of the supermarkets so that the workers operating the checkouts do not get leg fatigue. Standing all day without rest can lead to leg fatigue and sometimes varicose veins as there are no muscles pumping the blood back up into the body because you are standing still. These rubber mats will help but also wearing suitable footwear will help this situation also.
Again limit the standing to one hour or go from sitting for one hour to maybe standing for one hour. Make sure that you also have a few minutes in between so that you can do some exercises and stretches. If you are working in a standing position it is essential that you do some calf stretches and some foot stretches to enable you to maintain the position and good blood flow through the lower limbs.
Our trained physiotherapists can help you create the ebay workstation for you. Get in touch today.
Posture And Spine & Shoulder Problems
Poor workplace setups, whether you are standing or sitting or doing both, can still have an impact on your posture. Poor postures while at work might lead to chronic pain later on. Have you ever noticed a stooped posture on some people? Many say that this is just the ageing process, but it is not always the case.
Continued poor postures and leaning forward while performing tasks leads to stiffness in the upper back and sometimes can also result in limitation of movement of the shoulder joints. Sitting at a desk at the incorrect height causes us to lift our shoulders and this continued posture also leads to shoulder joint stiffness and often neck and
upper back pain. If you do have a desk job, is it essential to have a program of posture exercises so that you do not end up with a hunched back posture later on.
Posture exercises include a range of motion exercises for the neck, upper back and shoulders. They should also include some core stability and strengthening exercises so that our posture muscles can hold our body upright. The stooped posture is a clear indication that these essential muscles have been weakened probably from lack of use.
A good way to start is to:
- Have a break from your workstation every hour and stand with your back up against the wall.
- Your feet should be hip width apart and about 15cms from the wall. Your knees should be soft and your arms relaxed by your side with your elbow creases facing forward. This will ensure that you open up your shoulders and reverse the hunched posture.
- While keeping your posture relaxed, lift one arm up overhead towards the wall. Do not force the range through any pain. Then lower this arm and lift the other. Then lift both at the same time. All the time your hips and shoulders should stay against the wall and your ribs should not lift when you lift your shoulders. This will turn on your core.
- Repeat this 5 times and do often during the day to reverse the negative effects on your posture from working at a desk.
Now if you think that a short period of working from your bed is OK (and we’ve all been tempted), be warned. This can lead to lengthening of the delicate ligaments around the lower back which can lead to instability, back and SIJ (SacroIliac Joint) problems. The SacroIliac Joint is where the lower back joins the pelvis. It is a very stable joint but prolonged poor postures such as sitting on a soft bed can have drastic effects in this area.
Sitting on a bed causes us to round out our entire spine. There are no muscles working to hold us up in this position, so all of the ligaments and small stabilising muscles become stretched. The stabilising muscles can actually be turned off by sitting in this position, leading to a very high risk of injury particularly in the lower back.
There is never a time when it is OK to do work on your laptop while sitting on the bed. We will often see teenagers (especially around exam time) coming in complaining of neck, upper and lower back pain because many of them will sit on their bed to study. The problems that they develop from this can then take years to correct if it has been a consistent habit and it could also take years before we see the full extent of the damage.
For consultations about your posture, contact one of our skilled physiotherapists.
Foot Pain And Footwear
That then brings us to another topic – correct footwear when working from home.
Just because you’re at home working and no one is going to see you from the waist down doesn’t mean that you can walk around the house barefoot or in your Havaianas. Walking around in bare feet especially if you have tiled floors can lead to pain in the heels, feet and even the balls of your feet.
If you don’t like the thought of bare feet on the cold tiles and would prefer to wear your fluffy slippers while working this won’t help either. As your slippers have no support, you might end up with the same issues as the person who goes around barefoot.
Now I don’t actually have a problem with people being barefooted. Actually I encourage my patients to exercise barefoot, and believe that we all need to spend some time during the day barefoot so that we can give the muscles in the feet a chance to strengthen. Exercising in bare feet is an ideal way to strengthen your feet, hips and improve your balance when the correct exercises are performed.
If you are spending most of the day sitting, you should be getting up every hour. If you are barefoot or the equivalent (as in wearing non supportive thongs or slippers) you risk the chance of developing foot issues. This is different to when we are specifically exercising in bare feet. When sitting we often develop some tightness from our lower back down our legs and getting up and down continually in bare feet may then cause some of the pain in the feet. We have seen patients come in complaining of foot and toe pain when all they needed to do was ensure they were wearing correct supportive footwear when standing and walking on the hard tiled surfaces at home day in and day out.
Patients working from home have also been complaining of plantar fasciitis or stabbing pain in their heels, and making appointments to see their podiatrist because they thought they needed orthotics and all they needed was to be wearing supportive footwear. So please don’t wear your slippers, socks, thongs or ugg boots (unless they’re supportive) while working from home. Your feet will love you for it.
There is also nothing wrong with having a quick 10 minute lie down when you need to rest. After all, if you are at home you can do this – although you will not want to get into the habit of having a 2 hour siesta! Lying down will help to move the blood from your feet back into the rest of the body and give those legs a rest.
Pumping your ankles forwards and backwards while lying down can help with ankle swelling and leg fatigue. Again we have given plenty of simple exercise routines to those who are working from home and like to stand. Exercise routines should include stretches for the lower limbs, balance and strength exercises for the feet and some strengthening exercises for the hips.
Our physio’s are more than happy to help put a plan of action in place. Simply get in touch to create a personalised exercise plan.
Having the TV on while you are working may seem ok – after all, all you want to do is to keep up with what is happening in the outside world. Not only does this distract you from the task at hand but if you are continually watching doom and gloom news your mental health may suffer. It is OK to keep up to date with what is going on but you could probably do that in 5 minutes per day.
Keeping focussed on the task at hand not only gives you a sense of accomplishment, but can also help to stop the incessant chatter that can sometimes go on in our brain when we are trying to focus on too many things at once. Multitasking is not an option because you are working from home so other forms of multitasking also are not helpful unless they’re scheduled in your break time. Other examples of multitasking are preparing food for dinner, doing the washing, calling friends or family at the same time as trying to get your work done. Doing a bit of washing in a scheduled break can be a welcome distraction but if you are performing a task, try to perform that one task fully before doing anything else.
Being at home may make us wrongly feel that we can be more efficient with our work and home tasks. Taking the time to plan your break and meal times in advance for the week not only will have you eating good food that will help your brain to work, but will save a lot of time in the long run because you have it planned out in advance. Without this, we tend to then reach for the low nutrient value foods which can make us feel lethargic and sluggish. When we feel like this the last thing we want to do then is to go and exercise so this can turn into a vicious cycle. The lazier we are the worse we feel about ourselves and the less likely we are then to exercise.
Poor nutrition can also lead to slower rates of healing injuries because the correct nutrients and compounds are not available for the body to use if we damage something. Lower back pain may turn into chronic lower back pain if we continue to eat poorly, put on weight and reduce our activity level. There are a very high proportion of overweight people who have chronic pain so it makes sense that if you want to avoid chronic pain, avoid becoming obese by eating healthy foods and getting the correct amount of exercise for you.
As we are talking about food again it is wise to ensure that you actually eat enough calories also. Not consuming enough calories can also play havoc with our blood sugar levels and can even give us brain fog. This can lead to poor decision making and a decrease in alertness. It does take time to ensure that you have healthy food to eat for the week and this is one of the best things that you can do for your body. Your brain and body will all work better and you deserve to have the best food possible available to you.
Want to have a chat with one of our physios? Simply contact us today.
Exercise at home is an interesting topic. Your gym may be closed, or because you are working from home it might just be easier to simply exercise at home. There are many apps available and sites you can go to in order to do your own workouts at home, or you may just want to go walking or jogging in your own neighbourhood.
It is important to note that exercising on hard tiled floors can be very hard on your feet, ankles, knees and hips – not to mention your lower back. Most gyms these days have either rubber floors or sprung floors to cope with the impact that occurs during exercise so that injuries are minimised. You may also decide that you suddenly want to take up yoga or pilates, and think doing it at home with no one to watch or correct you is a good idea. I always suggest to patients that if they wish to take up a different form of exercise than they’re used to, it’s ideal to do this in a small group first with an instructor who can watch and correct them. You may be able to find classes on Zoom where the instructor is then able to watch you perform the exercises.
Here at Graceville Physio, we have had some Zoom classes on our timetable in the past, and while we feel that being face to face is obviously better, sometimes a Zoom class is a good alternative if the class participants cannot get in to do the class.
Walking is great for weight loss, general health and can even be the ideal exercise for lower back pain sufferers. But if you have never pounded the pavement before, it is not a good idea to go off on a 5km trek around the suburb in the old sandshoes that you bought 5 years ago.
Walkers in particular need a shoe that not only supports their feet during the entire gait cycle but the shoe needs to allow for sufficient toe off to minimise the impact on the feet. It may be necessary to buy a new pair of shoes for walking from a shoe store that has experts in fitting shoes.
It can also be helpful to see your physiotherapist or podiatrist in order to get some insight into the type of shoe that would be good for you.
The other thing about walking around the suburbs is that it is not the same as on a treadmill at the gym. Treadmills often will absorb the impact of the walk, so it is much harder physically to walk on outside terrain. Hills can also be a problem if you have not walked hills before and we have seen many patients who come in with hip or lower back instability, and gluteal/lateral thigh tightness which has become apparent once they have started walking up hills. Sometimes this is an easy fix and can be sorted by doing the correct warm up and stretches, but as always the pain is better off avoided. So if you are taking up walking please ensure that you follow the plan below:
- Get the right shoes prescribed/fitted by an expert
- Start slow on the flat and gently build up the kilometers
- Start hills gently also by maybe mixing up hills and flat once you are used to walking on the flat
- Stretch your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes after the walk
- Do not walk every day. Start with alternate days until you are fit enough to walk consecutive days and then ensure that some days are easy walks and some harder
- See your physiotherapist if you get any lower limb or foot pain so that injuries can be avoided down the track.
If you decide that your dog is now going to get that much-needed exercise, just be aware of your posture while you walk your dog. If your dog has a tendency to pull on their lead, then this can actually lead to shoulder pain. The constant pulling of the lead forces your shoulder forward and sometimes slightly out of the stability of the shoulder socket.
Pain in the tendons can occur and you might end up with something called rotator cuff tendonitis. The easy fix is to ensure your dog does not pull on their lead. If they always do this then consider using a halti device. This is placed around the dog’s nose and it is uncomfortable to them if they pull hard on it. They are often used in dog training sessions. Your dog can still stop to smell the roses but he won’t be able to run off in a different direction dragging you with him and then causing injury to your shoulder or spine.
Jogging Or Running
If you have not been a runner before and you would like to start it is important that you see a professional before you start running. A physiotherapist with a special interest in running injuries is ideal and can send you in the right direction for shoes etc. They will be able to give you a plan designed for you so that you can start off slow and avoid injury while you build up the muscle strength in order to exercise this way.
Jogging or running is not always the best form of exercise to do, especially if you have not done this before, so it is well worth seeing a professional and having a full body assessment so that they can assist you in your preparation and progression. Again, it is vitally important that you get the correct shoes for you and if you decide you will be running on consecutive days then it sometimes is advisable to have two pairs of shoes so that you alternate them.
If you have started running and develop any pain in the lower limbs, such as your knees, or back it is essential that you visit your physiotherapist in order to prevent further injury or to prevent a developing injury from presenting itself.
Cycling may be an exercise that might suit you if you have knee or foot issues. Again it is very important to have someone experienced fit your bike for you. Cyclists may develop lower back, hip, and neck pain from poor bike setup. If you suffer from any of these pains it is also necessary to see a physiotherapist who is experienced in cycling injuries and issues. Your physio may also be able to help you with your bike set up as they will be able to perform a detailed postural and movement analysis that will help you to achieve the best position on the bike for your body.
Heading Back To The Gym
For those of you that are working from home who used to work in the office, you may find that the change in routine is difficult to manage – and then you might just stop going to the gym altogether. This sometimes is not such a bad thing. Humans like to be challenged and in a gym setting, we often will push ourselves more than if we were exercising on our own. This can be good for people who think they’re lazy but for the rest of us we can be pushed beyond our boundaries and this can then lead to injuries.
I have had quite a few conversations lately discussing changing up the exercise plan for some individuals because after having a break from the gym they have found that they no longer wake up stiff and sore in the morning or that that niggle of lower back pain has now gone. It would probably be a good idea to watch how that person exercises, but if they give up doing a certain type of class, for example, but are still doing other exercise that may suit them better, then the change is a necessary one and could possibly prevent that person from injuring themselves in the long run.
So if you have had a break from the gym and you’re feeling good because of it, it might be a sign that you need to change your routine. Definitely don’t go back to your old routine if it is clear that you were developing pain or tightness from it, then get some good advice on what type of exercise is best for you. The best type of exercise is the one that you look forward to doing or that you like the feeling of afterwards. If you dread doing it and you feel awful afterwards then this is a sign that that exercise is not for you. Your physiotherapist is an expert in movement analysis and correction and so can advise you and work with you to decide what exercise is good for you long term. After all, we only have one body and we need for it to be working well for a lifetime.
Those of you going back to the gym to do weights sessions will need to make sure that you decrease your weights from your last visit. It will not be safe for you to go back to the same weights program you were doing in the gym no matter how fit you think you kept yourself while exercising at home. Some advice from the trainers at your gym is essential or you can design a plan with your physiotherapist who is experienced in weight training.
Hiring a personal trainer may also be a good choice either in the short or the long term to help you to maintain good technique and avoid injury. If there has been a period of time that you have not had access to weights or your gym you will have developed some weakness particularly in some of the postural muscles that are vitally important in order to lift weights safely. Your physiotherapist can give you a program that will help you to prepare for your return to the gym.
So before you head back to the gym,
- Get some advice on how to prepare your body for the return
- Get professional advice on how to start and progress your workouts
- Start slow. Rushing back into things risks you injuring yourself
To put a plan in place, book an appointment with your physiotherapist today.
Headaches, Neck, Jaw And Eye Pain
This was discussed briefly above, as headaches are common issues from not having the computer in the correct position. But what about eye pain or eye strain? This is sometimes connected to headaches and can also mean that you need to have a look at your workplace set up. If you are constantly leaning in to be able to see the screen, you may be having trouble with your sight or you could have tired and dry eyes.
When we are looking at a computer screen for an extended period of time we do not blink as much. This can lead to dry eyes, which can interfere with our focus and then give us a headache. Leaning forward with our chin poked forward can also give us pain in the upper part of the neck and this can also lead to jaw pain or tension. Tension type headaches typically involve tension in the head, neck, jaw and sometimes can include eyestrain. If you need to put your face close to the screen to see it, then it is time that you had your eyes checked. Also by continually focussing in the one direction for extended periods of time can cause muscular imbalances in the muscles that move and change the shape of the eyeballs in order for us to focus clearly.
There are some simple exercises that you can do in order to exercise all of the muscles of the eye in order to prevent eye strain and remember that blinking is important. If you’ve been in front of the screen for a long time, do some opening and closing of your eyes to ensure you are doing enough blinking in order to keep the eyes lubricated.
If you experience jaw pain from this it often is alleviated by treating the tension in the neck. If this does not help it is worth seeing a physiotherapist who is experienced in the treatment of TMJ or jaw pain. Your physiotherapist can mobilise tight structures in the joints and tissues of the neck and TMJ and also give you some advice on exercises in order to prevent this tension from reoccurring.
With this type of tension it is also common to see black spots in front of your eyes and if the tension is really bad I have seen some patients that have ended up without being able to see much at all until the tension is released. There are very easy exercises for you to do but remember that it is important to have the correct set up and to take regular breaks to avoid this type of strain and fatigue. The lighting in your workplace at home needs to also be adequate for you to avoid eyestrain and the other resulting problems associated with it.
So be sure to set yourself an alarm to get up every hour and to take a small drink of water every hour in order to stay hydrated and give your eyes and body a rest.
Book in with an experienced physiotherapist at Graceville Physio today.
Changes In Routine And Habits
We may have had some really good routines going before having to work from home such as going to the gym, walking the dog, getting up early, going to bed early and at the same time every night. All of this can just fly out the window when our work schedule changes. It is important for our physical and mental health that we do our best to recognise this and quickly set up new routines that will work for us in the new situation that we find ourselves in.
Setting up new routines that will still work for us can help us avoid going down the path of obesity, diabetes and chronic pain. It can be difficult at first if we think that we may only be working from home for a couple of weeks, and in that case it is not necessary to make new routines because you will be going back to the old ones that worked for you in the past. My advice is to just always have a plan in place so that you are more aware if you will need to adopt the new routines. What do you do if you can’t get to the gym? Have a plan in place for this. What do you do if you have to work from home and cannot get out to the shops as often as you used to? Have a plan in place for this also so that you know what to do and how to get prepared.
Additionally, wearing your PJs or lounge gear every day is not going to help you feel prepared for a day at work. That’s why it’s called lounge gear, because you lounge around in it. Even getting dressed as if you are going to work is going to help you to feel more energetic.
If you need help setting an exercise routine, reach out to one of our physiotherapists today.
Pelvic Floor Issues
Now this seems a very unlikely topic when we’re thinking about working from home, but when we become consumed with something in front of us the last thing we think about is going to the toilet. Not drinking enough water was mentioned above, and the consequence of this is that we do not necessarily need to go to the toilet to urinate. The problem with this, and the dehydration that not drinking enough water causes, is that for some people this also means that they also will become constipated.
Being forced out of our routine changes our toileting habits and can lead to serious damage to our pelvic floors. Men have pelvic floor problems too, it’s not just all about the women. If you’re working from home and not doing your incidental exercise in the morning and also not going to the gym your digestion becomes sluggish, and this also may lead to constipation or certainly difficulty to evacuate. So both dehydration and a lack of movement during the day can affect how we go to the toilet. Add to this that you are not eating nutritious and fibre rich food and the effects are multiplied.
The three major points here are
- Drink plenty of water or healthy sugar free fluids during the day (not sparkling water as this can lead to loss of enamel on your teeth and has also been linked to osteoporosis)
- Eat nutritious, fibre rich food including plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Move constantly during the day. If you are not exercising it’s very important to maintain incidental exercise during the day to help keep your gut moving. It is, of course, better to exercise and do the incidental exercise.
- Schedule in some daily exercise that gets your heart rate up.
- Never strain to go to the toilet
- Always put your feet up on a stool or an equivalent unless you have no problems evacuating your bowels.
- Always see a physiotherapist who has been trained in this area if you are having problems.
Why is it important to avoid constipation?
Sitting on the toilet and straining to relieve yourself can lead to serious pelvic floor issues, which will include issues with urinating as well. Your rectum will become less sensitive to when it is full and in need of emptying when you have problems with constipation. The nerves in your rectum will also give you less signals that you need to go because they have been desensitised which might make the problem worse. Straining may also result in developing weakness in the pelvic floor. So be aware that any sedentary lifestyle may cause problems with your pelvic floor.
Now when it comes to urinating, if you are not drinking you’re not urinating as much, but if we are drinking and holding on (because we want to get something done) this is bad in another way. Holding on for too long can make the bladder less sensitive to it’s feeling of fullness. In extreme cases patients need to catheterise themselves (put a tube into their urethra which is the tube the urine flows from) in order to go to the toilet. This is not much fun because then you are living a life counting fluid that you drink and constantly measuring what is coming out to ensure that your kidneys are working properly.
My tips for a healthy bladder and pelvic floor are.
- Go to the toilet when you need to go and not before. You can hold on a little but holding on for hours can do serious damage.
- Drink plenty of water and clear sugar free fluids
- If you drink coffee or alcohol make sure you drink more water to rehydrate yourself
- Never hover over a toilet seat. The damage to your pelvic floor from doing this will be worse than whatever you think you might catch from sitting on the seat.
- Always see a physiotherapist who treats pelvic floor issues if you are concerned. Be sure to check with your physiotherapist to see if they treat male pelvic floor issues as some women’s health practitioners who are experts in the treatment of pelvic floor issues are not experts in treating Men’s pelvic floor issues.
Book in with a specially-trained physiotherapist at Graceville Physio today.
Respiratory And Lung Issues
When we decrease our exercise, including incidental exercise, the other organ that can be affected is our lungs. Exercising regularly, even if it is going up a flight of stairs a few times a day when at work or home makes us take deep breaths and expands our lungs and airways. Sitting in front of a screen all day may have an effect on the expansion of our lungs. This can lead to shallow breathing and feelings of fatigue.
When we do not breathe effectively, the oxygen can’t get to our muscles and organs and the performance of these suffer. It also affects our heart as our heart is also a muscle that requires a constant supply of oxygen so that it can continue to pump the rest of the blood to our body. Our brain also requires a constant supply of oxygen in order for us to think clearly and problem solve.
A great thing to do when you are working from home or even at the office is to make sure that every hour you take some deep breaths into the bases of your lungs. If you watch how a baby breathes they seem to breathe all the way down into their belly, so if you practice pushing your belly out when breathing in you may help to fully inflate your bases in your lungs.
This can be done while sitting, standing, lying on your back, lying on each side and lying on your stomach in order to get all areas of the lungs inflated. You can also focus on the lateral movement of the lower part of your chest when you breathe in. That is expanding the rib cage sideways. This will also help to inflate the bases.
Many influenzas, pneumonia and viruses can affect our airways and lung tissue and the way we breathe. Having healthy lung tissue to begin with may be a really good way to ensure that we know how to expand our lungs and get them full of vital oxygen needed for us to enhance our immunity – which will help us to heal from the impacts of the cold and flu season.
If you have had any respiratory sickness it is important for recovery that you perform exercises that will help to strengthen your airways and lungs. As collapse of the lung tissue in the bases are common with some sicknesses, specific exercises given to you by your physiotherapist will help with your recovery. Make sure that you ask if your physiotherapist has had experience treating respiratory conditions before booking in for treatment.
Another problem with reduced immunity and respiratory illness is the secretions that are produced in the lungs and airways. Some extremely ill people with respiratory illness and distress literally die from drowning in their own secretions. If you have a respiratory illness and secretions, it is essential that you learn how to effectively reduce and eliminate those secretions.
A build up in secretions can also lead to collapse of some of the lung tissue. This can be common in the base of the lungs when the patient is unable to take a deep breath in.
Excessive coughing can also impact the pelvic floor. There are other, more gentle, ways to eliminate secretions from our lungs. A physiotherapist with experience in this particular area will be able to teach you how to expand your lungs, how to breathe correctly and how to drain and expectorate secretions in a way that is best for your body.
Respiratory Illnesses and problems where physiotherapy can help include:
- Post Virus Respiratory Illness
- Lung Collapse
- Fibrosis of the lungs
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Restricted breathing from lack of exercise
- Anxiety and stress related breathing problems
Contact Graceville Physiotherapy today for help with any issues related to working from home.
At Graceville Physio, our experienced team of physiotherapists are skilled in all areas related to issues that might arise from working from home. If you’re in pain or discomfort, get in touch today so we can create a personalised treatment plan to get you living pain free.
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